What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this cartoon isn't intended for kids or tweens, and its unsavory messages about bullying and violence are good reason to keep teens away as well. The show’s plot glorifies a bitter character’s quest for revenge against the people he thinks have wronged him, and his thirst for "justice" often prompts a violence including guns, fistfights, and the like. Death is implied rather than shown, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing when the victims include innocent bystanders of Dan’s unreasonable rants. Language is limited to marginal cursing like “heck” and name-calling like “stupid” and “jerk,” but the sheer abundance of it is iffy enough to give parents yet another cause for concern.
What's the story?
Not-so-loveable loser Dan (voiced by Curtis Armstrong) has a bone to pick with, well, everyone. Petty grievances like a broken window or a scratch on his car send him over the edge, and he’s got big plans for getting back at those responsible for his inconvenience. When the inevitable happens, he calls on his best friend, Chris (Dave Foley), who’s easily persuaded to chauffeur him to his date with revenge. Often the duo are accompanied by Chris’s wife, Elise (Paget Brewster), who tries to be a voice of reason -- until she’s bitten by the revenge bug as well.
Is it any good?
Let’s get this straight: This is not a cartoon for kids or tweens, and teens mature enough to not be influenced by its horrendous messages probably won’t be interested in it to begin with. Were Dan a real person, there would be ample reason to question his sanity, since his bitter, antisocial behavior borders on clinical paranoia and causes him to justify violence as a means for dealing with it.
The fact that Dan resorts to punching, strangling, and verbal threats to deal with people who bother him -- all of which is played for humor throughout the show -- should be enough reason for parents to nix it as an option for impressionable teens. Dan’s relationship with his best friend is perhaps the most disturbing part of all, since he subjects Chris to harsh physical, verbal, and emotional bullying. While there’s no outright cursing or sex, innuendo, verbal threats, and name-calling reach a fevered pitch, giving you plenty of reasons to keep your kids away.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about bullying. What are some forms bullying can take? How does verbal bullying differ from physical bullying? Is one any less harmful than the other? Have you ever witnessed a bully in action? What did you do?
What messages does this show send about responsible behavior? Is it appropriate for teens to watch? Do you think it’s likely that its content could influence viewers who have their own grievances?
What is the purpose of making this series -- which clearly is geared toward older viewers -- a cartoon? Would it be less funny in live action? Does animation allow the show’s creators to take liberties that wouldn’t be allowable otherwise? If so, what?